Number of children vaccinated against life-threatening illnesses falls

Leading doctors have blamed “false and misleading information on vaccinations”.

Matt Bodell
26 September 2019
Vaccine

Only two local authorities met global vaccination targets.

The number of children vaccinated against a range of life-threatening illnesses in England and Wales has fallen, a new report has revealed.

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NHS Digital’s Childhood Vaccination Coverage Statistics, published today, shows that just two of the 149 local authorities in England and Wales met the global targets for the second dose of vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella.

Hackney and the City of London had the lowest uptake at just 73.2% – a stark contrast to the recommended 95% by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

In 2018-19, 90.3% of children received their first dose of the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine, compared to 91.2% in 2017-18.

For the combined diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio and Haemophilus influenzae type b (DTaP/IPV/Hib) vaccine, coverage at 12 months was 92.1%, its lowest level since 2008-09.

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False and misleading information on vaccinations.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has blamed the fall in vaccine uptake on “false and misleading information on vaccinations” particularly on social media.

Responding to NHS Digital figures showing a fall in coverage for all routine childhood vaccinations in England, BMA public health medicine committee chair, Dr Peter English, said: “Childhood immunisation remains the most effective way to prevent a range of life-threatening illnesses and it is therefore extremely concerning to see a decrease in vaccination uptake given this is largely avoidable.

“There is a clear need to curb the damaging spread of false and misleading information on vaccinations by enforcing standards and placing legal obligations on social media corporations.

“More importantly still, the Government must implement an effective vaccination strategy that addresses the wide-ranging factors behind this decline and deliver adequate resources to ensure targeted, comprehensive vaccination programmes that reach those most in need.”

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